Shawano County projects 10.4% mill rate decrease

Reserve funds to be used to balance budget, lower tax rate
By: 
Kevin Passon
Editor-in-chief

Shawano County property owners will see a 10.4% drop in the county tax rate if the proposed 2024 county budget is approved.

Supervisors and staff have put together a budget that features $69.93 million in revenue that includes $17.99 million in property taxes, expenses of $73.23 million and the use of the county’s reserve funds to cover the $3.3 million difference.

As a result, the tax rate is projected to decrease from $4.34 per $1,000 of assessed value to $3.89 per $1,000.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 3:15 p.m. Oct. 25 in the County Board Room at the county courthouse.

“The mill rate has gone down every year for the past five years,” said Jim Davel, administrative coordinator for the county. “The financial position of the county is very good.”

Five years ago, the rate was $5.32 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate has steadily declined to $5.14, $4.97, $4.34 and now to $3.89.

Supervisors were originally asked to add 11 new positions in 2024. That number was pared down to five.

“We will add an office manager for the district attorney’s office,” Davel said. “It’s part of our plan to move that to a paperless office.”

A second deputy will be added for courthouse security.

A grant was received to pay the costs of an agronomist in the land conservation office. Davel said it was made clear that when the grant money goes away, the position will as well, because the county will not continue to foot the bill for the position.

Also, the veterans service office will get a part-time assistant.

“We have a new veteran service officer, and he’s been getting out more often, and that’s leaving a gap in the office,” Davel said. “This will help fill that when he is out.”

Finally, a limited-term employee will be added in the planning and zoning area to help send out the property tax bills.

For the first time in a decade, elected supervisors will get a pay raise.

If the budget is approved, they will be paid $75 per committee meeting and $80 per board meeting. Both of these figures are $5 increases.

Also, the county board chairman would get an increase from $5,000 annually to $7,200.

“Most town chairs make that,” Davel said.

“The highway department received a grant from the state for $7.3 million,” Davel said. “The county’s share is $1.1 million, which we will not borrow for; we’ll just pay cash. The money will be used to repair three bridges and road work associated with them.”

Of the $17.99 million tax levy, nearly half will be allocated to the sheriff’s department.

Part of the sheriff’s department funding will be paid with 43% of the levy (including 26% for the jail). Another 19% of the levy will go for roads and bridges, with 10% for human services and 9% for maintenance.

The remaining 19% of the levy is distributed among the county’s other 19 departments.

“We run an incredibly lean county budget,” Davel said. “We don’t have a lot of fat. We’re very conscious about using taxpayers’ money.”

Insurance rates are expected to increase about 6%, and fuel costs increased but not as much as feared. However, some costs are higher than expected, such as the $85,000 increase in food costs for the jail.

The county still has about $2 million available in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money. It must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024.

“This has been very beneficial to the county,” Davel said.

Funds have already been used for work at parks, the installation of a mechanics bay and pit at a county shop building, a fueling station on the county’s eastern edge and assistance with a small restroom on a trail near Eland.

Body cameras for deputies, a body scanner at the jail, cell phones for sheriff’s deputies, and two stretchers and a new vehicle for the coroner have also been purchased.

Davel said the county intends to only use the money for one-time purchases, not something that would require continue county funding once the ARPA funds are expired.

Copies of the entire proposed 2024 budget are available for public inspection at the Shawano County Department of Administration/Finance Division offices located in the Shawano County Courthouse, 311 N. Main St., Room 101, Shawano.


BY THE NUMBERS

2023 revenue — $64.43 million

2024 revenue — $69.63 million

8.07% increase

2023 expenses — $69.97 million

2024 proposed — $73.23 million

4.67% increase

General property tax

General fund — Increase from $9.92 million to $9.98 million (0.64%)

Total including general fund, public health, library, county roads and bridges, airport, human services and debt service — Increase from $17.76 million to $17.99 million (1.29%)

Tax rate

2023 — $4.34 per $1,000 of assessed value

2024 — $3.89 per $1,000 of assessed value

10.4% decrease


kpasson@newmedia-wi.com